(Updated 2:20 p.m., Aug. 23) The Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday unanimously confirmed in a breeze the ad interim appointment of Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez as the new Philippine ambassador to the United States.
Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, chair of the CA’s committee on foreign affairs, moved to confirm at the CA plenary Romualdez’s appointment.
Lacson said that Romualdez’s solid background in public relations makes him an effective person for the position.
“Babe fancies the crowd with his candid and affable self. His refined demeanor makes for a good company for Manila’s elite and foreign dignitaries,” Lacson said in his speech endorsing Romualdez’s confirmation.
Sen. Loren Legarda expressed support to Romualdez, who was her former boss at RPN-9.
“And so it is my honor, dear Babe, a good friend for 35 years, to see you bridge that relationship between our dear beloved country, the Philippines, at this precarious times, with the United States of America,” Legarda said.
Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, for his part, said Romualdez is in “best position” to strengthen the Philippine-U.S. relationship.
“We need a person like him who could diffuse an intense situation with his eloquence and diplomatic skills,” Zubiri said.
Romualdez’s jurisdiction includes the Commonwealth of Jamaica, Republic of Haiti, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, The Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and Grenadines and Saint Lucia.
Romualdez represents the Philippines at a time of tension between the country and United States as several American lawmakers and leaders have expressed concern on the Duterte administration’s violent crackdown against illegal drugs.
Asked about his views about such criticism, Romualdez said that the Senate investigation on the recent spate of killings is “a very good indication” that the Philippines is a “country of laws.”
“I think this type of hearings and also investigations are very important, and these are the things that people, especially in the international community, would like to hear that we are a country of laws and we follow a system here,” Romualdez said.
“We do not need other countries to tell us what to do, we will do it on our own,” he added.
While assuring the relationship between the Philippines and the U.S. has remained “steadfast” and “strong,” Romualdez emphasized that the Philippines is geared toward pursuing an independent foreign policy that is “mutually beneficial” to both parties.
“We are now in a situation that we are telling our friends in the United States that we would like to have a relationship that is mutually beneficial for both of our countries, at the same time, we have our own interest to protect,” Romualdez told the panel.
“We will agree to disagree on other points that we feel that is not to our own interest,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has criticized American leaders, including former U.S. President Barack Obama, who have raised concern over the increasing death toll and reported human-rights violations brought about by Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.
Romualdez, a long-time columnist, is a member of the powerful Romualdez clan of Leyte. JPV
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